Riding Solo

3541809514_fb06a3708eA little known fact about me: I used to be scared to do anything alone. Ok, after reading my blog that’s probably a well-known fact but when I say “anything,” I mean things as simple as going to Target. That’s always kind of the barometer I use when I think of how frightened I was to do anything alone. The minute I got a serious boyfriend, I dragged him with me everywhere (including Target).

It might seem like an odd thing. It might seem like a common thing. I’m not sure. But this fear without a doubt stemmed from my having a disability. For me, going places with other people was like a shield. Literally a human shield. If I did something as simple as going to Target with a friend or a boyfriend, then maybe people wouldn’t notice my limp as much. Maybe if they did notice, they would see I had a friend with me so I must be pretty “normal” then.

It was all rooted from a fear of that thing we all fear on one level or another: judgement. I needed to have someone with me not just so other people might forget about my disability, but so I could forget about it too. I thought if someone saw me alone and subsequently noticed my disability they would think, “Oh, look at that poor disabled girl, all alone.”

Flash forward to something I read today (on tinybuddha of course). I read a list of 5 ways to help your self-esteem and one of those was to stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to yourself. Think about how far you’ve come. Reflect on the changes you’ve made in your life. So now, just a few years later, I am able to not just go to Target by myself…I go to movies by myself. I have meals by myself. I shop by myself. I do a lot of things…by myself and nearly every time I let myself feel that gratitude for how far I’ve come. I remind myself of how scared I was in the past. How I let that fear rule me and literally paralyze me into doing nothing for so long.

I may not always be able to shake off the potential judgement. Sometimes I do still worry about what people might think of me but when I compare me to the me of just a few years ago, I can see and feel all of the positive strides I’ve made and for that, I am extremely grateful. Ridin’ solo!

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5 thoughts on “Riding Solo

  1. I completely understand! I often have trouble going places alone because I always feel like people are staring and judging me. I know they’re really not, but it gets stuck in my head that they are. I’m definitely much more adventurous and outgoing when I’m with someone, like you said.

    Cheers to ridin’ solo and learning how to be independent! 🙂

  2. The fear you talk about in this really spoke to me. About four years ago when I was still in undergrad, I could never find myself doing things alone. I blamed my extroverted personality as to why I would constantly need company. It got to a point where I was living with 5 of my girlfriends in a house, yet I started feeling lonely regardless. It was then that I decided that I needed to start finding enjoyment from my own company. It’s a funny concept that we feel like others are judging us based on who we are with. The fact is that most people admire others for being independent, and being much less dependent on others. It’s really awesome to hear that you’re in a serious relationship, yet you know that there are things you need to do alone for yourself.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how did you explain to your boyfriend about your MD? How does such a conversation go?

    Thank you for your insight! I really appreciate it!

    1. Hi Puja. Thanks very much for your comment! With my boyfriend at the time, I had the advantage of knowing him already for quite a while before we started dating so he knew already. Once we started dating, along the way I would tell him which things more specifically I had trouble with or needed help with. He was very attentive and accepting. It was a complete non-issue. I wish I had the advantage of all guys I dated knowing me (and my disease) beforehand, it definitely made things easier! With most guys it just comes up because they notice my limp and that opens the conversation up about it usually.

  3. Have a great appreciation for this blog Jackie. There over topics in which many of can relate to at various levels. I know many who can’t do much without another person. I even know someone who, when driving alone, has to pick up the cell phone and call someone to have that comfort of knowing that someone is there. I personally feel much more secure and confident when someone is with me when I go to the store, around campus, or even church. However, I’ve come to realize two things. When people judge and look down at another, it is on them. I believe that those who may judge this easily have an issue themselves as they cannot understand that an individual can be good alone. The second thing is that, if an individual can “ride solo” wherever they go and be content, they appear as strong, confident individuals that no one else can have an effect on.

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